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Domestic Violence Has Become More Deadly
Statistics from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement estimate that approximately 106,000 instances of domestic violence crimes were reported in 2020. While this was only a slight rise from the previous year’s 105,300, experts who work with domestic violence survivors have documented a significant change in pattern – during 2020, more victims sustained more serious injuries, and more weapons were used in more assaults. If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense, be aware that the use of a weapon or other extenuating circumstances can and will add time to any sentence if you are convicted.
Used As A Sentencing Enhancement
Many who commit crimes of domestic violence are unaware that Florida law does not recognize ‘domestic violence’ as one offense. Rather, certain offenses fall under the umbrella of domestic violence if they are perpetrated by one “family or household member” against another. The law specifically lists certain crimes as being domestic violence offenses, such as assault, battery, kidnapping, and stalking, but “any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death” may qualify.
In essence, Florida law sees the existence of a domestic violence situation as a sentencing enhancement of sorts. For example, if someone is convicted of domestic battery, they would face the standard sentence one receives for misdemeanor or felony battery – but extra time may be added as a result of it being a crime of domestic violence. This is added on top of other potential sentencing enhancements, such as the use of a weapon in commission of the crime. A sentence for a person convicted of misdemeanor battery will differ greatly from another person convicted of domestic battery with a weapon.
Take These Charges Seriously
While the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported 2020’s murder and manslaughter rates very similar to those from 2019 (roughly 220 in both years), it is worth noting that domestic violence offenses are routinely underreported due to fear, or not taken seriously because victims do not cooperate (or do not act in the way that outside parties think a victim should). If a person was of a mind to act in an abusive manner, there were far fewer opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic for a victim to leave.
If you are charged with domestic violence offenses for actions you took during the pandemic, know that you may face significant prison time – particularly if you chose to use a weapon or perpetrated these kinds of actions with a minor child present. You have the right to defend yourself, and in many situations, an episode of domestic violence can boil down to a “he-said, she-said” argument – but it is crucial to take these charges seriously.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, know that while you have the right to assert a defense, the charges are extremely serious, and you need the right legal help to ensure your rights are protected. A West Palm Beach criminal attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help you get your day in court. Contact our office today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.